A.R. Rahman has definitely touched new heights in the musical composition of the song “Omanap Penne” in the Tamil film Vinnaiththaandi Varuvaya. This song sets new trends in several aspects of film music — the format, style, rendering, digital manipulation and so on. No experimentation will be worth the effort if the song fails to impress the mass listeners and from this benchmark too, the song has been a super hit, considering the way music channels are telecasting the song time and again, despite the passage of a few months after the film release.
Watch the video below
This song appears to have every potential to win a national award for film music. Benny Dayal who has sung this song, has put his voice and soul to it.
Totally unlike the traditional song format where there will be a Pallavi, Anupallavi and charanam with musical filling in between these segments, Omanap Penne has been tuned by A R Rehman in a totally new, what we can perhaps call, a linear format. The song begins and virtually goes on and on continuously in a style never heard before!
Despite the novelty of style, what is extremely attractive in the song is the fact that it is based on a highly classical Carnatic Raga Bilahari.
Bilahari, surprisingly is one Raga that does not boast of too many popular compositions even in Carnatic Music. In Carnatic Kutcheris, one is likely to come across only a few “popular” songs (like Paridhanamichide (Patnam Subramanyar), “Dorakuna Ituvanti Seva (Thyagaraja) or Eka dandham bhajegam (Dikshidar).
Bilahari is one Raga which is not easily amenable for light music also. Bilahari has indeed been handled in film music in the past by several stalwarts including Ilayaraja.
In the early sixties the film Konjum Salangai, which was very famous for its super duper hit song “Singara Velane Deva” had one excellent song “Orumaiyudan Ninathu thiru malaradi…” sung soulfully by Soolamangalam Rajalakshmi, soaked in classical Bilahari. (It too had a Nadaswaram bit played by the famous Karukurichchi Arunachalam. There is something about it and the Omanap penne song that requires a deeper study in a separate blog!).
A very popular Hindi film Song of the seventies “Kora kagazuka ye dil mera… was another great hit which has its soul in the Raga Bilahari.
Several years later, in the film Bala Nagamma, Ilayaraja tuned a hit song in chaste Bilahari – “Koondhalile Megam Vandhu…” wonderfully sung by Jesudas. There are a couple of more songs too tuned by Ilayaraja in the raga over the years.
Now A.R.Rehman has done it in the Omanap penne. The beauty of the Raga has been skillfully portrayed in a light way, with a judicious digital manipulation that has the potential to captivate the listener.
The crown jewel of Omana penne is the culmination of the song with a Nadaswaram Solo rendered aesthetically by Mr Natarajan. The soul stirring Bilahari, with all its characteristic nuances intact has been seamlessly weaved into the song. The particularly long bit of Nadaswaram smoothly embellish the mood of the song and when it fades gradually as the music ends, a lingering taste remain in your ears and that remnant taste wants you to listen to the song once again from the beginning.
Well done Rehman! You deserve a National Award for this unique composition